Love For Leche Flan; Baker Kristine de la Cruz
By Karena Apollonya Ebora Higgins
Kristine, co-owner of Creme Caramel LA, and I met a couple of years ago. She had a small sweetly -intoxicating booth at Unique LA. It featured two of my favorite desserts, bread pudding and Filipino leche flan. I had never tasted flan this good and with such a variety of flavors. I’ve forced her to be friends with me ever since. I got a chance to sit down with the self professed “bread pudding maker” to chit chat about life, love and leche flan.
What were you doing before Creme Caramel LA? I was a music manager, A&R and event planner for West Coast Music
How did you get into food? I can remember, when I was around 9 or 10, my dad talking to people about investing in a restaurant, Lumpia House USA. I was so excited. I volunteered to work the cash register, etc…It never happened, but I never forgot that. It wasn’t until I was in college(studying business and marketing) when I worked in a bakery that I knew I loved it. It was an amazing experience. It was a popular bakery. I saw people lined up at 5:45, the shop opened at 6, to get coffee and pastries early in the morning. I loved the hospitality and seeing people enjoy the product instantly. I’m a sucker for affirmation and instant gratification.
Who’d you learn to cook from? I learned from my mom, Food Network, Julia Child and Yan Can Cook on PBS. I always read cookbooks when I was a kid. Mostly I was more interested in the baking side as opposed to the savory. I’m self taught.
How did you learn Creme Caramel aka leche flan and why? I decided to go into food and food based products before I knew what it was actually going to be. I knew I wanted something that was a niche and unusual, something that wasn’t currently served in the market. That’s the marketing side of me. I saw Sprinkles Cupcakes actually do it, make a whole brand around just one thing. I started developing my business plan and at the same time my boyfriend and I were visiting his family. I had brought them leche flan and they loved it. That’s how it started. The recipe is a hybrid of my aunt and uncle’s leche flan recipe and a traditional creme caramel. It has the texture of creme caramel, but the flavors of Filipino leche flan.
Do you cook Filipino food? Adobo and Bistek, that’s the extent. It’s not because I don’t want to. It’s because when I do cook it, I think my mom can make it better.
What do you listen to while you cook? I listen to talk radio, KPCC, it keeps me informed or Mix Crate.
Top 5 Condiments: Ketchup, Sugar, Vinegar, Mustard, Spicy Vinegar
Guiltiest food pleasure? Oh man, I have to admit, in the past year, I’ve been eating a lot of fast food, really shitty, shitty, Taco Bell shitty. I think burgers in any form. Juicy Burger, on Hollywood, its a big ass burger and it falls apart in your hands.
Favorite food to eat? Of the moment, I’m kinda like Rain Man in a way, because Ill eat something for the longest time and then I won’t. One of my kicks right now is oatmeal. I have to lower my cholesterol. Oatmeal with brown sugar and Parmesan cheese.
Favorite place to eat? Mexi Cali Tacos on Figueroa.
Your thoughts on Filipino American food, past, present, future? Filipino food is awesome. I grew up on it. Unfortunately and fortunately for it to get “popular”, it’ll have to be embraced by the “outside” culture. A lot of Filipinos love Filipino food , but there’s a “I can make that at home mentality”. That needs to change.
Catch Creme Caramella@ Silverlake Farmers Market and Atwater Farmers Market.